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News » Minnesota Timberwolves falter down the stretch, lose to Pistons

Minnesota Timberwolves falter down the stretch, lose to Pistons

Minnesota Timberwolves falter down the stretch, lose to Pistons
Sooooo close.

The Timberwolves were less than three minutes away from a fourth consecutive win Wednesday night, but the Detroit Pistons spoiled the ending with a come-from-behind 98-89 victory at Target Center.

Rasheed Wallace scored seven of his 25 points in the final minute, 48 seconds as the Pistons erased an 11-point, third-quarter deficit and avenged a 106-80 home loss to Minnesota on Nov. 23.

Al Jefferson scored 24 points to lead the Wolves, who had a five-point lead with less than six minutes remaining but were outscored 15-3 in the last 3:40.

"That wasn't a very good game for us," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "The whole night long, it was just one of those games. It just seemed to me like we were stuck in mud."

McHale gave credit to Wallace and the Pistons but pointed to his team's four fast-break points, eight offensive rebounds and 16 free-throw attempts as partial evidence of a loss that he called "self-inflicted."

"That has not been our M.O. for a while," he said. "For me sitting there, it felt like we just could never get out of second gear."

The loss came at a particularly bad time for the Wolves, whose January record dropped to 10-3. Minnesota plays its next two games against last year's NBA finalists, the Los Angeles Lakers at home Friday and at Boston against the champion Celtics on Sunday.

Asked what his team has to do to bounce back against such high-caliber opponents, McHale said: "We have to play better. That's all."

The Wolves' sluggish performance could be blamed in part on point guard's Sebastian Telfair's bruised right thigh, which limited him to eight points and three assists in a little more than 20 minutes.

But Jefferson, who will learn today whether he has been selected to the Feb. 15 All-Star Game, said it was more because of a lack of killer instinct.

"When we've got them down like that, just continue to jump on them," he said. "We had an 11-point lead that should have gone to a 20-point lead. That's what we had to do, and we didn't do that. We can't let a team like that hang around."

The Wolves (16-28) used a 9-0 run to take that 11-point lead with 4:41 to play in the third quarter.

Ryan Gomes had five points to lead the surge, and Jefferson added four, including a pretty one-handed push shot from the baseline, despite some tough defense by Wallace.

Wallace hit a three-pointer with 51 seconds left in the period to pull the Pistons to within 70-69, and Tayshaun Prince followed a Randy Foye layup with a jumper that made it 72-71 heading into the final 12 minutes.

Allen Iverson put Detroit on top with a jumper to open the quarter, and two Brian Cardinal free throws and a Mike Miller layup gave the Wolves an 82-77 lead with 7:09 remaining.

The Pistons closed to one again on a Rodney Stuckey layup that made it an 84-83 game at 4:56.

Rookie Kevin Love made two free throws to give the Wolves some breathing room, but Antonio McDyess hit two consecutive baskets for an 87-86 Detroit lead with 2:25 to play.

Wallace added two free throws after a Gomes turnover and followed a Jefferson miss with a jumper that made it 91-86 Pistons with 1:16 left.

Foye split a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game at 1:11, but Wallace hit a three-pointer and the Wolves were done.

"He put us on his back and he carried us," Iverson said of Wallace. "The mistake they made was letting us stay in it and letting someone get the hot hand. That's what happened. We stayed in the game, and we got a hot hand at the right time."

Love notched his ninth double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota and Foye had 15 points.

On this night, it wasn't enough, though, to save the Wolves, who picked a bad time to play a bad game.

"We did not play our best Basketball tonight, that's for sure," McHale said.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 30, 2009


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